Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Wrap Up

I'm combining my 2019 goal review and 2019 wrap up into one post, because well, we're out of days in 2019 for me to post them! And I almost missed the last day to post this!

Let's see how we did with the goals:

1. Get Penn settled in his new home.

CHECK! I hear from Penn's new owners multiple times a month and he is fat, hairy and happy. He's also sound again! It took until July, but he's back doing low level dressage with the family's youngest daughter and trail riding with everyone else. He lives out 24/7 now and is doing well. I haven't been able to bring myself to visit him, but I will next year I think.

2. Find a new horse.

CHECK. This was a bad year, sorry guys. Finding, then losing, Liam was terrible. I basically horse shopped from January to August with a 3 month break from April to June. That was also terrible. At least I have Eli now! He's such a great boy, and is exactly what I needed.

3. Stay on top of my own health (treat asthma appropriately, de-stress to lower my blood pressure, continue to lose weight or at a minimum don't gain back what I've lost).

Ehhhh... well de-stressing didn't last long, I've been horribly stressed for most of the year and generally unhappy. I've also been plagued with health issues that meant not only did I not ride often, but I also didn't bike. I gained back the 30 pounds I lost last year and spent the last quarter of the year struggling to lose anything. With the weight gain and lack of cardio, my asthma is starting to act up, despite daily medication.

4. Bike from Pittsburgh to DC.

Nope. This got derailed quickly as the group I was going to bike with slowly disbanded and it's not a trek I'm about to make by myself. I also didn't have the vacation time to spend on the trip after Liam's trip to OSU and his death. Hopefully Husband and I will ride the length of the GAP trail next year.

Next is a month by month run down of the year, because a lot did happen that never made it to the blog.


I started horse shopping.

Went to Canada.

Austen came to visit me and took WONDERFUL pictures of me and Penn. Seriously. Love.

Penn went to his new home and settled in beautifully.


Back at the end of 2018, Kate and Megan schemed for me to travel to CA for the Mary Wanless Instructor Workshop. That happened at the end of January/ beginning of February and was seriously a huge turning point in how I rode. For the first time in a long time, I felt secure in the saddle. I've always felt pretty laterally secure in my upper body in the saddle, but I struggled with longitudinal security, and I've always struggled to stay plugged in. Megan drove me around and Kate graciously let me borrow horses to ride, and gave me a lesson before I went home that came with a breakdown of everywhere my position was failing. I went home and worked on it! I spent almost a month at the walk at home, running through my check list!


I spent most of the end of February and all of March horse shopping. Failed vettings occurred and one sale horse dumped me hard. I got back in touch with Event Trainer to go see Liam.


Liam came home and we did all kinds of baby horse stuff like leading, yielding, standing to be groomed.

Husband and I go on a whirlwind Vegas/Phoenix/Grand Canyon adventure for our anniversary.


I took Madonna to two Mary Wanless clinics where Mary helped me get my posting trot more effective and my core engaged. I loved my lessons. Madonna did not, she started acting out under saddle and rearing when I tried to get on, then bolting.


The veterinary disaster month. Liam was eventually diagnosed with Wobblers and was put down June 27.


I started riding a gentle school horse with a good amount of motion in her ocean to get used to riding again, and to canter again for the first time in months. I went to see several more sale horses and then saw Eli. I started biking again.


My new horse trailer arrived!

Health issues abound! I gave myself a concussion and my blood pressure was spiking. I had to stop biking after the concussion.

Eli came home! I had my hand held through our first few weeks of riding as I was afraid to even trot him because my body was not responding like it used to. I had a few lessons with the German Dressage Trainer.


Husband and I took advantage of the long holiday weekend and went to Canada together: Niagara Falls and Toronto.

Eli and I continued to get to know each other.

I went to Dressage at Devon and finally got to meet Jenj!


I spent a lot of October hating my job and extremely stressed about it. I got my crap together and updated my resume and practiced my interview questions. Nothing comes of the brief search and phone interviews, which only added to my stress levels.


I signed up for a program to get over my irrational riding fear. Immediately, I was able to stop lunging Eli before riding and able to redirect my anxiety so I could cope long enough to get going under saddle. Still lots to work on, but I was excited to ride again.

The month of lessons! I had a lesson I hated with German Dressage Trainer. My barn hosted a clinic and I had two good rides with that trainer, and even cantered a little.

With some of my nervousness and anxiety handled, I took Eli to see GP Trainer finally. She had freshly broken her hand so she couldn't ride him herself, but her staff gave Eli two very badly needed schools that really set the tone in a way I couldn't because of my fear. I rode too! We worked on small goals that were quite reminiscent of GP Trainer's small goal confidence building methodology for green horses (achieve a small task and send then back to the barn glowing with pride in themselves).

I went home from that weekend with GP Trainer with my hair on fire and SO MUCH more confidence than before.


I kept working Eli and became increasingly frustrated that my half halt didn't work and I couldn't seem to get him off the left rein. He constantly looked right (both directions) and I'm aware of my pulling left hand, so I had no idea what to do to fix it that didn't involve pulling my left rein. He'd look left and pull/run through my half halts.

I went to see Cob Jockey's GP Trainer (who I'll call JT), who we met in May when she hosted Mary Wanless. She rode Eli and went over a ton that I want to write another post about. Hopefully I can get that out first thing in the new year! We did two lessons that started with her riding and then a short lesson for me. She helped me feel like I was in more control as I gained more influence over Eli. At the end of my second lesson, I cantered a full 20m circle in some semblance of control and structure, something I haven't done since I tried him in July (and that was like cantering a freight train).

I've had very good rides since I've been home and I'm slowly using the entire indoor at home (even the scary area by the back door). And we've ventured to the outdoor on the handful of warm December days!

And lastly, I want to thank everyone for sticking around and coming by to read and comment on my ramblings. It means a lot that you're coming back to read my sporadic posts this year. I started this blog in May 2014 and it certainly chronicled an exciting part of my life. For the longest time, I wrote to myself, but slowly picked up the greatest friends I have now. The people I've met and talked to through the blogosphere have greatly influenced my life.

Remember when we were kids and our parents told us "Don't talk to strangers on the internet?" I'm so glad to have ignored that.

Here's to a healthy and happy 2020 for all!

Monday, December 30, 2019

2010s In Photos

I'm jumping on the bandwagon for this challenge! Thank goodness for Facebook and this blog to find the old photos. I know I'm supposed to keep to one picture a year... but for a couple of the years I just couldn't help it.

I started eventing again after a 6 year break.

Mikey and I did a lot of hunters and jumpers in prep for our first recognized horse trials. While there are other pictures that more adequately show what we did, this is my favorite picture from 2011. My in laws had a drawing of this picture commissioned after Mikey's death, and I still tear up looking at it.

The highlight of the year was doing the long format beginner novice at Full Moon Farm. A great place with incredible people and I had an incredible time.

2012 (again)
Couldn't help adding a second picture. This is from my first novice, that I rode with a sprained ankle (visible side).

This was the year I started showing dressage only. That's not the highlight from the year though. Husband took a series of silhouettes one evening, and they're still among my favorite pictures.

Mikey and I kept showing dressage, riding 2nd and 3rd level as I tried to clean up his changes enough to finish my bronze.

Mikey had surgery for a fracture bed in his hock. He recovered, we showed 3rd level again, and a month later he died. Our 11 year relationship ended in a flash.

2015 (again)
Penn entered my life shortly after Mikey's death and provided a healing balm.

A year showing at recognized first level. And a hug for Penn at the end of our championship test.

Penn helped me finish my bronze medal!

A tragic year for Penn's soundness, we did one major fun thing and checked off an item off my bucket list... sorting cows!

PC Austen
I realized I couldn't manage Penn's rehab and gave him to a friend who could. Austen was so generous in coming to take beautiful winter photos of us.

2019 (again)
Beefcake Liam came and went from my life in the blink of an eye.

2019 (again again)
Eli came into my life and reminded me that horses are fun, and riding is fun too.

May the 2020s have as much fun and joy as the 2010s, but please, with a lot more soundness and good health for all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Hoof Update

Since Eli has come home, we've had 4 trims at some odd intervals because he's lost a front shoe (or both) before his next appointment. Despite how bad that sounds, he is keeping his shoes on much better than the original set he came with. All of his list shoes revolved around him doing something dumb outside at the 4ish week mark in the cycle. We're aiming to do his fronts on 4 week cycles to keep the shoes on, and his hinds on 5 to 6 week cycles because they seem to be in better condition.

Dirty because these pics were actually taken 2 days after his trim. 

The visible changes aren't as drastic anymore, but we still have plenty to do. We're still dealing with the shape of his hooves at the very bottom, which is from when his toes were allowed to grow way too long so the angle is messed up.

Hooves are a long road, but we're getting there. It'll be interesting to look at these with a year's worth of pictures!